Since the initial zinc oxide usage discussions began in 2017, many of us will have all followed the debate and are aware of the reasons behind the ban.
As permission for the use of existing supplies of zinc oxide in weaning diets draws to a close, producers must venture forward into this new era without therapeutic zinc oxide and begin to explore new strategies.
Why Did We Use Zinc Oxide Previously?
For decades high dosages of zinc oxide were used in piglet diets to prevent post-weaning diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is one of the most common causes of economic losses in pig production.
The Zinc Oxide Ban
There have been multiple studies on the use of zinc oxide that highlight its negative effects on both animal performance and on the environment. These include:
- Its contribution to the increase of antimicrobial resistance.
The changes on the piglets’ microbiome (balance of gut bacteria).
The accumulation of zinc ions in vital organs that lead to stress responses and an impaired metabolism.
Environmental issues (the main reasons why the European Union decided to ban the use of zinc oxide by 2022). As pig manure is frequently used as an organic fertiliser for soils, large amount of zinc ions can be spread in the soil and can reach the water, causing changes in the composition of these natural sources used by humans.
The reasons above can result in reduced feed intake during the first week after weaning and therefore the gut cannot adapt to process the new ‘hard’ feed to the best of its ability. This combined with the immune system of the pig not yet being fully functional, means that pathogens such as E. coli can colonize the gut, leading to an increased incidence of post-weaning diarrhoea (PWD).
PWD is a widespread and worldwide challenge associated with high morbidity, consequently leading to productivity loss and mortality. An “imbalance” in the gut microbiome, known as gut dysbiosis is a leading cause of PWD.
Early microbial colonisation of the gut of the young pig represents a window of opportunity to modulate the gut microbiome and achieve long–term benefits on immune development, resistance to disease and digestive efficiency.
A Natural Alternative to Zinc Oxide
Natural OEO is proven to provide a multitude of benefits and properties which support piglet development and lifetime performance:
- Support piglet gut health & performance through maternal feeding.
Lower the average mortality of piglets post-weaning.
Increase piglet weight gain from birth to weaning.
Have no negative effect on medication use.
Lower mortality linked to starvation and scour.
Support average daily gain.
Want to Read More About Life Without Zinc?
Click below to read our article published in Pig Progress by Nacia Bonnick, Swine Technical Support at Anpario plc.